The federal prosecution of Ghislaine Maxwell could have public officials in its sights, according to a report Friday.
The US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan assigned the explosive case to a unit that deals with public-corruption cases, said Law & Crime.
The SDNY notably did not assign Maxwell’s case — which revolves around underaged sex-trafficking — to the office’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit.
“The fact that it is staffed out of Public Corruption tells me that a public official – past or present – is involved in at least some capacity,” CNN legal analyst Elie Honig told the site.
“[That] could mean a potential target, witness or a potential co-conspirator. It could mean a lot of different things.”
According to the US Department of Justice, the Public Corruption Unit zeroes in on governmental misconduct.
“The unit oversees the investigation and prosecution of corruption crimes committed by elected and appointed officials, government employees, and individuals and companies doing business with the city, state, and federal government,” according to the DOJ’s Web site. “Corruption crimes investigated by the unit include bribery, embezzlement, and frauds committed against local, state, and federal government agencies.”
Maxwell’s former lover, the late Jeffrey Epstein, was linked to a long list of high-profile associates both before and after his sweetheart 2009 deal for soliciting prostitution for a minor. He killed himself in August in a Manhattan jail cell while awaiting a fresh sex-trafficking case.
Epstein’s underage-prostitution investigation began in Florida, and observers speculated the Maxwell’s case could scrutinize the role of officials there, according to Law & Crime.
“The Public Corruption Unit was the unit that brought the original Epstein charges and thus these additional Maxwell charges, likely because of the involvement of public officials in Florida in giving Epstein the sweetheart plea deal a number of years ago,” former SDNY deputy chief and current CNN legal analyst Jennifer Rodgers told the site. “My educated guess is that part of this investigation has involved whether any of those officials had done anything wrong [such as accepting bribes] in connection with that matter.”